Sunday, November 22, 2015

Basketball (Or Something Like It)

In my effort to have every single decent middle grade sports book published within the last 20 years, I recently went through the Accelerated Reader list of basketball, football and baseball books for titles that had tests but which were not not in my collection. Most that I lacked were no longer in print, but I unearthed a few possibilities.

503726Baskin, Nora Raleigh. Basketball (Or Something Like It)
HarperCollins, 2005

The North Bridge middle school basketball team is off to a rocky start even before try outs. Tensions are running high, and coaches are hard to keep, but that doesn't stop four players who are involved in the team for various reasons to care deeply about the process. Anabel doesn't even play, but her brother does. Personally, Anabel believes that she would be even better than her brother, but their father only cares about Michael's involvement in the sport. Nathan's parents really want him to play, but he has very little talent, despite making the team. Jeremy has other problems. His mother dropped him off at his paternal grandmother's house, saying that she couldn't take care of him any more. His father is nowhere to be seen. His grandmother is glad to have him, and makes him try out for the team. He's a good player, but his mind is elsewhere. Hank is a decent player, but his parents are WAY too interested in his involvement on the team. After finally getting a decent coach, dealing with nutty parents who get themselves thrown out of games, and trying to work together as a team, can the group do a decent job on the court?

Strengths: This book looks at basketball from a different perspective-- why are people on the team? What motivates them to do well on the court... or not do well? I liked the inclusion of Anabel, but was sad that she really didn't get to play until high school. The disparate teammates learning to work together was an interesting way to set up the book.

Weaknesses: I'm not a huge fan of books from multiple perspectives. My struggling readers often are confused by this, and this book is otherwise a great choice for those readers, since it is fairly short.

What I really think: It has a basketball on the cover, has a decent amount of information about what goes on on the court, and would make an EXCELLENT team read, along with the parents of players. Saw on Goodreads that a school somewhere was doing that. What a fabulous idea! Definitely buying, and I think this will be a steady circulator. Don't know how I missed it. Holds up well: only one mention of a Palm Pilot, and one mention of IM'ing.

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